web-design

Do you remember the very first time you ever got online? You might remember the lovely screeching tones of dial-up modems or possibly waiting ages for pages to load, but do you actually remember how the internet looked? (f you don’t, the web site for the movie Space Jam is the closest thing to hopping in a time machine you could ask for.

In an age when online style trends come and go with increasing frequency, it can be easy to forget just how far we’ve come. At the outset of the internet there was no “flat design” or “parallax scrolling.” There weren’t even any images!

In the 25 years since the launch of the World Wide Web we’ve come a long way. The way sites are designed and created has been altered completely to grant designers near infinite freedom with their own webpages, but time has also taught designers that less can be more.

In this infographic, AmeriCommerce explores the exciting history from 1990 to today. You’ll see all the old trends you used to love (and loathe), and you might even learn something new about the technological advances that have facilitated the advancement of the internet to where it is today.

history-web-design-infographic

 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Love her or hate her, chances are if you were searching for a celebrity this year using Bing, you were probably looking Kim Kardashian. Thanks to her highly publicized marriage to Kanye West and her “break the internet” magazine cover, Kardashian was the top searched for celebrity on Bing in 2014, topping a list of mostly female celebrities, according to Bing’s latest list of search trends.

Bing Trends compiles the most popular searches across 15 different categories every year, including everything from top news stories, athletes, and vacation destination searches. There is even a list of the top ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos shared online this year.

Keeping in line with past lists and similar findings from Google, the list of most searched for celebrities is absolutely dominated by women, with females taking eight of the 10 spots. Notably, the Kardashian family occupies more than one spot on the list as younger sister Kendall Jenner also makes an appearance on the list.

Top 10 Most Searched Celebrities

  1. Kim Kardashian
  2. Beyoncé
  3. Miley Cyrus
  4. Katy Perry
  5. Justin Bieber
  6. Joan River
  7. Jennifer Lopez
  8. Kendall Jenner
  9. Kaley Cuoco
  10. Robin Williams

The lists also covers the biggest events and news stories of the year. Capturing the most attention of the entire year was the World Cup, however numerous more serious world news stories such as the rise of ISIS and the protests in Ferguson also claim spots on the list.

Top 10 Most Searched News Stories

  1. World Cup
  2. Super Bowl
  3. Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet
  4. Winter Olympics
  5. The Rise of ISIS
  6. Ray Rice Controversy
  7. Shooting in Ferguson, Missouri
  8. Ebola Outbreak
  9. Brittany Maynard Death with Dignity Debate
  10. Ukraine Conflict

The top searched Musicians is also notably female-heavy, with Justin Bieber being the only male to hold a spot on the list. Other controversial figures also sit near the top, such as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry. Of course, at the top of the list sits Beyoncé for another year.

Top 10 Most Searched Musicians

  1. Beyoncé
  2. Miley Cyrus
  3. Katy Perry
  4. Britney Spears
  5. Justin Bieber
  6. Jennifer Lopez
  7. Selena Gomez
  8. Taylor Swift
  9. Nicki Minaj
  10. Carrie Underwood

You can see the other findings for categories including “political movers & shakers” “most-searched athletes” and “celebrity births” on Bing Trends.

Emoji’s have become an essential part of every day communication for many smartphone owners, and now they appear to be making their way to search engines. On Monday, Bing announced their search engine would now be capable of recognizing emojis and using them as a search term.

“With the explosion of mobile devices and the ubiquity of texting, it has become a shorthand language used by billions of us around the world,” wrote Nick Roberts, senior program manager at Bing Relevance & Intent, in a blog post. “We want you to be able to search the same way you communicate every day.”

Users can search for single emojis, or you can combine them in a mix of text and emoji as they are typically used in text messaging. Notably, Yahoo and Duck Duck Go are also capable of recognizing emojis, but Google is not.

You can see examples of what this looks like below:

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It’s that time of year again. Today is April Fools’ Day, and following with tradition the internet has become littered with jokes and pranks that range from confusing, to mildly chuckle-worthy. We decided to collect the best of this year’s gags, but obviously there is no way to assemble every joke posted today. You’ll just have to use your best judgement before you believe anything else you read today.

Unsurprisingly, Google has numerous April Fools’ pranks spread across their apps and services, with varied results. Google Chrome announced Google Translate would now support Emoji, which is a cute idea that undoubtedly made quite a few people smile. It claims to be built into Chrome for Android and iOS, and the tool lets you, “Read all your favorite content using efficient and emotive illustrations, instead of cumbersome text.”

Of course, the announcement was accompanied by a YouTube video, as well as text examples that actually served as the inspiration.

AdSense also made an announcement on Google+ that their reporting system is going cosmic. With the new “Top planets and moons” reports, advertisers can gain insight on how their ads are faring throughout the solar system.

“With our recent discovery of the interplanetary IP address repository, you’ll have access to even more reports that can help you improve user engagement on your site,” the post proclaimed.

topmoonsandplanets

But,  Google’s most popular April Fools’ joke this year ended up going online before the holiday even arrive. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Google has kicked off the first ever Google Maps: Pokemon challenge. If you update Google Maps for Android or iPhone, you are able to follow in Ash’s footsteps and try to catch ’em all.

To get started, users tap on the search bar at the top of the screen, and tap the small icon labelled “Press Start” with a Pokeball beside it. You’ll be immediately transported to the Pokemon Lab, with the pocket monsters spread across the landscape. Users tap the Pokemon to catch them, and gradually fill the Pokedex while scouring the globe.

Of course, the title of Pokemon Master is too good to be true, so don’t expect an awesome job at Google for the effort.

Surprisingly, I can’t seem to find any official pranks from Twitter or Facebook. Usually they try to get in on the fun in some way. In fact, the biggest jokes on social media this year appear to either be Reddit’s announcement of ‘Headdit’ or Bill Clinton’s use of his Twitter account to parody Hillary Clinton’s infamous photo of her working aboard a military plane.

HT_hillary_bill_texts_jtm_140401_16x9_608

Clinton’s gag is pretty self-explanatory, but Headdit is another matter all together. Using your webcam, Reddit has made a system that maps your face onto Reddit’s mascot, the alien known as Snoo. It actually works, although it is a bit glitchy. You can ‘upnod’, ‘frownvote’ and even enable a cat mode when your felines show up on camera.

Did you find any other notable April Fools’ jokes this year?

Twitter has become an undeniable force in modern culture. Even if you aren’t signed up for the social media platform, you can hardly turn on the television without being bombarded by tweets and hashtags.

Every major news network solicits tweets from their viewers in order to get real-time responses to issues, and any new episode of a show is bound to have at least one hashtag hovering in the bottom corner of the screen.

But, those TV hashtags highlight one of the biggest problems with Twitter: few people actually understand hashtags or how to use them efficiently. Sure, we all know how to tag Instagram photos with them, or we slap a silly hashtag on the end of tweets to add a little more information, but the number of people actually using hashtags to organize and sort through the constant tidal wave of new tweets is actually quite low.

It isn’t that Twitter’s users aren’t smart enough to use hashtags more efficiently, but it is difficult to make hashtags a very useful sorting device without going through a middleman. Twitter’s search engine can let you broadly search hashtags, but if you want to actually make sense of the mess you most likely need an extra tool to help you out.

Ann Smarty from Search Engine Journal pulled together five such tools to help Twitter users everywhere turn hashtags into a vital part of their information consumption every day. If you want to be smart with your hashtags, these tools are the best place to start.

1. Twitter Chat

twitter-chat-tool

When Twitter began using hashtags, it didn’t take long for users to figure out that the tags can be used to create a conversation between numerous people. Rather than directly messaging an individual, you are able to put a topic or “chat title” in the form of a hashtag so users are able to create a real discussion. But, the conversation was still cluttered and not well laid out for the average reader.

TwChat allows you to take those hashtags and monitor them in real time. It also lays the tweets in a more cohesive way, so that you can more quickly read and understand the conversation. Best of all, it is super simple to use, free, and doesn’t require downloaded software.

2. TagDef

TagDef

Originally, there was an unspoken rule that hashtags should be easy to understand at a glance. Obviously, this rule has fallen apart over time. Hashtags tend to be a combination of slang, inside jokes, and promotional material that makes no sense without context.

With the help of TagDef, you won’t have to worry about not being caught up with the latest American Idol hashtag or the slang younger people are using to keep up with the meaning behind hashtags popping up in your feed. The tool lets you search a hashtag and get the meaning instantly. You can also edit and add your own meanings. TagDef acts like Urban Dictionary exclusively for hashtags (and potentially a little less focused on profanity).

3. Hashtags

Hashtags Tool

Hashtags gained its reputation as the largest hashtag database on the web, but there is much, much more there. The site includes analytics, how to articles, blog posts, a chatroom, a forum, a hashtag dictionary, events, trending hashtags, popular hashtags (long-term), and even more.

4. Tagboard

tagboard

Of course, hashtags aren’t limited strictly to Twitter. The history of hashtags goes all the way back to IRC chats, but they have spread to nearly every major social networking platform out there. Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Vine have all implemented the organizing tool. Tagboard takes hashtags from across all those different platforms and displaying them all on one page. You can even use it as a social network dashboard, allowing you to like, share, or retweet as you desire without ever having to leave the site.

5. Hashtagify.me

hashtagify

There is no rule you have to use only one hashtag per post. In fact, many add three or more hashtags on a large number of their posts, but it can be hard to see how they are related from Twitter’s site. Hashtagify helps you see how different hashtags are related and their usage patterns, as well as offering in-depth analysis in their pro version. They also have active breakout alerts, so you can always be the first to know about the new cool hashtag.

The SEO community is sometimes thought of being a stuffy industry, but we like to have fun like any other group of people. For example, you probably would never have guessed that there are online games specifically aimed at the optimization community.

Yet, in the past week two such games have been found, both very SEO-centric. They’re a cool novelty and they offer about as much fun as the games they are based on.

First we have Donkey Cutts, a Donkey Kong knock-off, using prominent SEO personalities and tech imagery in the place of an oversized monkey and barrels. Obviously Matt Cutts from Google is featured, but players are also able to pick from other SEO personalities (though there is some disagreement who exactly the characters are).

Donkey Cutts

There is also Madoogle, a clone of Angry Birds which lets you attack black hat SEOs with some more easily recognizable SEO faces. This one includes versions of Matt Cutts (again), Rand Fishkin, Lisa Barone, and Barry Schwartz.

Madoogle

They probably won’t help you rank much higher, but these games might allow you to relax for a few minutes while still keeping SEO fresh in your mind.

Despite not being available to the public any time soon, Google Glass has already raised quite a bit of a stir. But, not all of the stories have been good.

Source: WikiCommons

Source: WikiCommons

While plenty of testers or “Google Glass Explorers” have used the technology to engage with the world around them in a new way, there have been concerns about the safety of wearing Glass while driving or doing other activities. There have also been reports of those wearing Google Glass getting into confrontations with others for various reasons surrounding the technology.

Now, Google has released an official list of do’s and don’t’s for Google Glass to help mitigate the more negative stories that keep popping up. If you’re one of the lucky few getting to test drive Google Glass before its public release, you might consider heeding the guidelines they shared for the best experience possible.

The Google Glass Do’s:

  • Explore the world around you. Glass puts you more in control of your technology and frees you to look up and engage with the world around you rather than look down and be distracted from it. Have a hangout with your friends, get walking directions to a fantastic new restaurant, or get an update on that delayed flight.
  • Take advantage of the Glass voice commands. Glass can free your hands up to do other things like golfing, cooking, or juggling flaming torches while balancing on a beach ball (but also see Don’ts #2). This is great for looking up how many ounces in a cup while you cook, or taking a one-of-a-kind photo from your unique perspective.
  • Ask for permission. Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends (see Don’ts #4). The Glass camera function is no different from a cell phone so behave as you would with your phone and ask permission before taking photos or videos of others.
  • Use screen lock. Glass screen lock works like your smartphone’s screen lock: it passcode-protects your device to help prevent others from using it. If you ever lose your device or have it stolen by a budding online resale entrepreneur, you can turn off Glassware and perform a remote wipe (e.g. factory reset) of the device, removing all your information from the device. All you need to do is go to your MyGlass page on your browser, or the MyGlass App on your phone.
  • Be an active and vocal member of the Glass Explorer Community. The Explorer Program was created in order to have a place where our Explorers can give feedback, share content and communicate with the Glass team. It’s been hugely successful over the past year and this is due to our wonderful group of Explorers. They are constantly sharing their worlds with us and with each other, allowing us to hear and work on all the great feedback and stories our Explorers give us (and, wow, do they give us a lot!).

The Google Glass Don’t’s:

  • Glass-out. Glass was built for short bursts of information and interactions that allow you to quickly get back to doing the other things you love. If you find yourself staring off into the prism for long periods of time you’re probably looking pretty weird to the people around you. So don’t read War and Peace on Glass. Things like that are better done on bigger screens.
  • Rock Glass while doing high-impact sports. Glass is a piece of technology, so use common sense. Water skiing, bull riding or cage fighting with Glass are probably not good ideas.
  • Wear it and expect to be ignored. Let’s face it, you’re gonna get some questions. Be patient and explain that Glass has a lot of the same features as a mobile phone (camera, maps, email, etc.). Also, develop your own etiquette. If you’re worried about someone interrupting that romantic dinner at a nice restaurant with a question about Glass, just take it off and put it around the back of your neck or in your bag.
  • Be creepy or rude (aka, a “Glasshole”). Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.

seahawks-vs-broncos-us-bing-searches

No one is calling a clear winner for the Big Game Sunday Night. As numerous sports analysts have pointed out, it is rare that both of the best teams from the past season actually make it to the Super Bowl, but this year the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos match-up should make for a truly exciting game.

While the game will likely be close, Bing says the Seahawks have already been dominating the Broncos online. Bing examined U.S. search volume for both NFL teams, and the Seattle team has taken the lead in 33 states.

Obviously, the Seattle Seahawks absolutely dominated searches from The Evergreen State (95 percent), but they also have a clear lead in Oregon (82 percent), Idaho (79 percent), Alaska (78 percent), Hawaii (73 percent), and California (64 percent).

Of the 17 states where the Broncos held the most search volume, they had a less significant lead. Their home state of Colorado had the most significant difference with 85 percent of searches, while neighboring Wyoming had (77 percent). South Dakota and Indiana brought up the lead with 66 and 64 percent respectively.

In total, Bing users searched for the Seahawks 26 percent more often than the Broncos.
Of course, outside factors could explain the differences in search volume.

As Search Engine Watch points out, searches for the Seahawks spiked across the nation immediately following Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s infamous post-game interview. The controversy and excitement surrounding the over-the-top interview made the Seahawks’ search volume jump over 80 percent.

http://youtu.be/PPD_Lgq7IyI

The Broncos have had their own moment of viral fame, with tons of clips compiling Peyton Manning yelling “Omaha”, but the larger focus after the Championship games two weeks ago was easily favoring Sherman. Without his spectacular outburst, search volume would likely have been more even across the country.

http://youtu.be/hBqwWe0S8jw

What are you thoughts? Who are you favoring in Super Bowl 48?

Everyone knows that Google is a fan of hiding little easter eggs throughout their services, especially in Google Maps and Google Earth. Many of the most well known “secrets” of Google Maps involve objects that actually exist in real life, such as the popular giant pink rabbit in Italy. However, Google also creates some fun little tricks on their own. I learned of two such treasures this week and thought I would share them with you.

The first has been around for a few years, but it recently began making the rounds again. Michael Gray on Twitter noticed that Google Maps gives a particularly funny response if you happen to search for walking directions from The Shire to Mordor, as you can see below.

mordor-google-maps-1389877244

It is a good time for the little trick to be popping back up, considering the new The Hobbit film is just now leaving theaters, with one more on the way. Plus, many like me never saw it when it was first discovered in earlier versions of Google Maps.

Tardis-Google-Maps-Street-View-640x333

The other secret Google Maps holds is much newer, but equally (if not more) exciting for the fans of Doctor Who. It seems the Tardis was hiding inconspicuously along Earl’s Court Road in London when the Maps team was in the area, because stepping into the blue police box sitting nearby when using Streetview.

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If you click on the double-white arrow, you’ll notice the police box is bigger on the inside, and you can explore the (limited) depths of the Tardis, The Doctor’s infamous time machine. Of course, it doesn’t have the endless new rooms and corridors that often appear in the show, but you get a good look at the controls and interior.

What is your favorite Google Maps easter egg?

2014The New Year is here and many are already looking forward, making resolutions and formulating predictions about the year to come. But, we can’t know what is going to look for in the future without looking back at 2013. The past year brought big changes to online marketing thanks to some big revisions in Google’s policies and the ever-changing world of design.

Whether you spent the past year doing the Harlem Shake or actively following all the notable blogs to keep your site up to the latest standards, you might want to refresh yourself on the big events and articles from the past year. With that in mind, we thought we would share our most popular posts from 2013. You can remind yourself what mattered in 2013, and see what might be important in 2014.

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